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Altenbach v. Link

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 13, 2017

GREGORY ALTENBACH, Plaintiff
v.
DAVE LINK, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Gregory Altenbach ("Plaintiff'), a former Pennsylvania state inmate who, at all times relevant, was housed at the Benner Township State Correctional Institution, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, ("SCI-Benner"), [1] commenced this action on December 23, 2014 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint (Doc. 11) wherein Altenbach names the following Defendants; Dave Link, Tammy Ferguson, and Dave Smead. Altenbach alleges that his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated because he was subjected to constant illumination in the restricted housing unit, ("RHU"), at SCI-Benner. (Id.).

         On April 23, 2015, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint. (Doc. 21). Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs motion for leave to filed a second amended complaint. (Doc. 70). In his motion, Plaintiff seeks to add three new Defendants and to dismiss one of the original three Defendants. (Id.). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion will be granted.

         II. Discussion

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days of serving it or 21 days after the service of a responsive pleading or motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). In all other circumstances, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or with leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15 embodies a liberal approach to amendment and specifies that leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Dole v. Arco Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d Cir. 1990); Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(2). "An applicant seeking leave to amend a pleading has the burden of showing that justice requires the amendment." Katzenmoyer v. City of Reading, 158 F.Supp.2d 491, 497 (E.D. Pa. 2001); see Garvin v. City of Phila., 354 F.3d 215, 222 (3d Cir. 2003) (explaining that a plaintiff must show that the elements of Rule 15(c) are met in order to change the party or the naming of the party against whom claims are asserted).

         "The policy favoring liberal amendment of pleadings is not, however, unbounded." Dole, 921 F.2d at 487. Factors which may weigh against amendment include "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182(1962).

         Amendment is futile when the claim sought to be added would be barred by the statute of limitations. See Garvin, 354 F.3d at 219. However, an amendment of a pleading that changes the party or the naming of the party will relate back to the date of the original pleading and therefore will not be barred by the statute of limitations when the requirements of Rule 15(c)(1)(C) are met. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) provides;

(c) Relation Back of Amendments.
(1) When an Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:
(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be set out-in the original pleading; or
(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending ...

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